THE Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) has launched ‘Be-Longing for It’, an online resource encouraging gay, bisexual, and queer men to talk about taking care of themselves and each other when it comes to methamphetamine or ‘ice’ use, sex, and intimacy.
The resource is based on an exhibition that was held during the 2017 Midsumma Festival. VAC worked with community artists Sam Wallman, Michele Vescio, and Bailey Sharp to develop animated videos and audio stories, drawing on real stories of meth use within the community.
“Gay, bisexual and queer men enjoy drugs at much higher rates than the general community, particularly methamphetamines,” said VAC CEO Simon Ruth.
“When drug use becomes problematic it can have a severe impact on people’s health and wellbeing.
“We consider peer stories to be a valuable tool in reducing the harms associated with methamphetamine use. They capture the complexities of meth use in our communities and make understanding them more accessible to everyone. This project will foster important conversations between our communities and alcohol and drug services.”
Jeremy Wiggins from VAC co-ordinated the project and interviewed the men involved about their meth use.
“I interviewed eight men about their experiences with methamphetamine use for ‘Be-Longing For It’. Some of the men felt their use was really destroying their lives, while others had developed tools and strategies to manage their use within particular personal boundaries,” said Wiggins.
“The stories are very individual, but a common link between them all was about a desire to belong and to feel connected.”
Russell* was one of the eight participants who shared their real-life stories of meth use for the project.
“For me it was a crucial opportunity to convey my own experience through a different medium to reach and impact a broader audience and engage people around complex issues,” he said.
“The raw and sometimes confronting material conveys powerful truths in an entirely accessible way, and leads to candid and unexpected insights and crucial conversations around reducing harm and addressing problematic use.”
The Be-Longing For It stories are available as part of VAC’s TouchBase, a national resource on alcohol and drugs for LGBTI communities. VAC also runs the Re-Wired counselling service for men who wish to learn skills and strategies to change their methamphetamine use.
If you’re seeking support and would like more information on crystal meth, visit The Institute of Many (TIM)’s online resource.
*Not his real name